In this second volume of His Dark Materials, Pullman shows his hand. This long, beautiful, and ambitious tale turns out to be nothing less than a sequel to Milton: the old war is going to be fought again, and this time, we're going to win. The wit and excitement of Harry Potter, with real ideas and real feelings, this is an extraordinary book.
This three-volume set is clearly a single, large novel. Tolkein, of course, meant for his work to be a single volume too.
And, to think that I would never have heard of it if a Tinderbox user hadn't sent me an essay of Pullman's on educational theory.